Football people on TV: Richard Dunne

Date published: Saturday 4th February 2017 10:28

This week Johnny goes all Oirish, so he does, and wonders if Richard Dunne is the victim of a nuclear explosion.

 

Fashion police
Even if you didn’t know him, somehow, by cultural osmosis, you’d know Richard was Irish. He just looks very Irish. The pinkish, glazed, misty blue eyes, thick low-set ears and the way he looks like a burns victim when heavily tanned, so much so that he actually appears to be sweating from the heat his own skin is generating as he glistens under the studio lights.

As such, you wouldn’t expect his dress sense to be especially ostentatious. Rather, it veers on the side of the style of a man who has taken his tie off at a wedding reception and is about to slake a very serious thirst, possibly followed by an altercation with a taxi driver, or leaping through a window.

This being said, there are photos of him sporting a natty three-piece which looks like it’s made from ecru linen – probably Irish linen at that. Even so, basically, clothes are just another way you can embarrass yourself in life, so are best worn conservatively so that the flashy boys don’t make a big issue out of them and force you to whack ‘em in the mush for being such arse biscuits. Ever was it thus.

However, has the broad, wide shoulders to hold a nice jacket and the sort of powerful chest which one might suspect could really hurt if you came into contact with it.

From the Charlie Adam school of ‘oldest young man you’ve ever seen’ Richard now has a pleasingly mature aspect to him despite, somewhat surprisingly, being a mere 37. I blame playing for QPR; it ages a man. But, weirdly, he looks in better nick now than the man affectionately known as the Honey Monster ever did.

Lives in Monte Carlo. Which somehow seems wrong for a boy straight outta Tallaght.

 

Lingo Bingo
That Tallaght, Dublin accent is a pleasure on the ears. In the same way your Norn Iron voice always sounds like they are issuing you with a threat, even when they’re only asking if you’d like some tea, the Dubliner can make any words sound like the seductive poetry of a man hallucinating visions of Jesus. I think it’s the softness to the consonants that does it; nothing sounds too harsh or hurried. And, for a pundit, it softens even the harshest of criticisms.

 

Hits and misses
One of those players who straightened himself out and became a certifiable 100% legend at Man City, then Villa. I forgot he played for Everton too. The QPR days were less glorious. On the pitch he moved with all the speed of a coal bunker and with all the grace of a shed being bulldozed over a cliff. On top of that, he could do a magnificent stumble, stagger and sprawl. Still holds the Premier League own goal record. For all these reasons he’s always been a fan favourite.

Seems to have a lovely, grounded view of what he achieved: “It’s very consuming, football. You think it’s the be-all and end-all of everything and then when you come out of it and step away, it doesn’t actually matter.”

Served his country manfully and often in backs-to-the-wall circumstances, so the Honey Monster is much loved by Irish fans. This wonderful six minutes of his performance against Russia encapsulates everything the big man is about and why it’s so easy to appreciate his art.

On TV he wears the expression of a man who looks a bit terrified to be there. His nervous, sometimes distracted eyes exude an uncomfortable vibe, the way a man who hates public speaking does just before having to do the Best Man’s speech. At times he looks off camera, as though trying to find an escape route out of this hellish world.

Certainly hasn’t relaxed into the pundit’s lifestyle of shouty, flakey opinion and badly-constructed sentences, married to graceless barfing from underneath expensive haircuts. Is much to be praised for that.

And you do sense there’s a touch of still waters run deep about Richard.

“There’s no-one else around that actually thinks about how bad you’re feeling. If something happens and you lose a match, five or six days later you’re still trying to pull yourself out of it whereas anyone else who’s been at the match and watched or wrote about it, it’s over.”

 

Big club bias
I’ve always thought being from the Republic means you are, by nature, very, very down to earth. Absolutely savaged Manchester City’s defence when torn a new one by Leicester City, so clearly isn’t afraid to call it as he sees it, no matter who is playing.

 

Loved or loathed?
Liked and loved beyond all measure by some. One of those players that really appeals to a certain sort of person who just wants a defender to defend and do so with a barrel-chested physicality. Seems affected and without side. Also, not hard to imagine him losing his temper and going absolutely radge on your bad ass.

‘Loved The Honey Monster as a player.’

‘As a pundit his soft voice makes me feel nice and calm, almost sleepy.’

‘Looks like he’s come straight from a Christening.’

‘A deer in the headlights.’

‘You can imagine him in Platoon: Haunted Looking Soldier No 3.’

‘I don’t know if this is snobby but I think it shows a smart bloke who appreciates the finer things. And booze. Lots of booze.’

‘Never looks comfortable in a shirt and tie, looks like he hasn’t worn one since school.’

‘Ordinary bloke who just happened to be an excellent footballer. Calls it as he sees it with no agenda.’

‘Permanent look of confusion backed up with poor on-screen ability.’

‘Always looks terrified, like all those own goals are playing on loop in his head. An Irish legend though!’

‘He lives in Monte Carlo. I don’t know why I find that so fascinating.’

‘Looks an old school CB, and early career held his own in the drinking stakes, Irish as well so obviously a PFM.’

‘Quite like his actual punditry though. “Anyone can pass the ball 10 yards” on Hart/Pep made me smile.’

‘I feel like he’d look a much better pundit if sat next to Sylvain Distin in the studio.’

‘Looks like he has a lot to say but the camera drains his confidence,an ideal pundit for radio I think.’

‘The only ex-pro who looks fitter post-retirement.’

‘Can look slightly embarrassed to be a pundit, like he knows it’s not a real job.’

‘Physically, the move from own penalty box to pundit chair is that of a giraffe from jungle to unicycle.’

 

Proper Football Man?
The dirty little secret of every PFM is that they feel inadequate when compared to any of their celtic cousins. Yer Timmys and yer Pards and yer Sams know they’re kings of the south London strip club and Spud-u-Like Emporium, The Potato Nipple, but when it comes to going toe-to-toe with an Irishman, they shrink in fear. No Reidy flask of oblivion would do any damage to Dunny. What’s this fierce brew, Reidy? Macaroni, milk, powdered cheese, rum, Jagermeister, mayonnaise, gin, raw egg yolk, salt, rice wine and bile extracted from a live cobra injected into your eyes. Yeah, very nice, but when does the proper drinking start?

The PFM loves Dunny for being a hairy-arsed defender, for being massive and for being more of a man than they’ll ever be. He makes me feel like I’m a lass in panties and a bra, Jeff, which is a good look for me. I never touched him, even though he was gorgeous. How old? Am I going to jail again?

Gets all his PFM badges. Started at the bottom, reached the top. No concession to metrosexuality and certainly passes the ‘Not Like Olivier Giroud’ test with flying colours. They love that he lives in Monaco. Gotta be a tax-dodge job that and every PFM hates paying taxes and firmly believes in not just biting the hand that feeds him, but ripping the arm off at the shoulder and beating you with the soggy end.

Dunny has also been suspended for ‘disciplinary problems’, and all PFMs consider this to be a large badge of honour, feeling that unless you’re found unconscious, naked except for a corset, strapped to the mast of a yacht owned by a Saudi billionaire, you’re not really one of the boys.

But one feels the the PFMs will be let down by Dunny’s unwillingness to wear a silly hat and derive an almost insane amount of entertainment from it, thus:

 

They may also be slightly fearful that the glowing, moist skin proves he is actually radioactive. Also, he seems an unlikely candidate for any red hot lothario-ing with Miss Colcannon Cabbage and Corned Beef Busom of 1995 and his days of post-casino frolics seem well behind him. All of which is of tremendous disappointment to the boys, as the boy Dunny has got so much potential and would surely be useful when a fight breaks out after an inappropriate incident involving a over-sized pepper grinder and a jar of Vaseline. It was a pure accident, officer, one-in-a-million chance.

PFM membership granted but unused.

 

Beyond the lighted stage
Literally no evidence of any form in this regard but his kids do have brilliant names: Tayo and Lyla.

 

John Nicholson

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